AS the Christmas and New Year Bank Holidays approach, Dr John Simpson, Southern Health Trust’s Medical Director has appealed to the public to help health and social services to cope with the extra pressures by choosing the right service.
Dr Simpson said: “Trust staff will always do everything they can to ensure that all patients are treated as quickly and safely as possible but we appeal to everyone to help us to help those who need us most at this busy time. Hospital emergency departments are for people who are seriously ill or injured and need to be immediately treated.
“Remember there are other services that can help you so please think carefully before choosing the right one. For example if you have a minor ailment, a visit to your pharmacist may be all you need or you can attend a Minor Injuries Unit for treatment of a minor condition like cuts, sprains, minor burns etc.”
Dr Simpson added: “If your condition deteriorates significantly then contact your GP and when your normal GP Surgery is closed contact the GP Out of Hours service. This service is not intended to replace GP services but deals with urgent problems that cannot wait until your own GP is available.
“The GP Out of Hours service operates weekdays after 6pm, at weekends and on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. If you need a GP out of normal working hours, always phone first on 028 3839 9201. The GP out of hours service should be contacted only if you have an urgent medical condition that cannot wait to be treated during normal surgery hours. Many patients can be given advice over the phone to meet their needs and do not need to come to a centre. Patients who don’t phone first may have to wait longer to be seen or be redirected to a more appropriate service.”
Dr Simpson also encouraged people to help prevent spreading flu and other viral infections: “I would urge people not to visit hospital if they or someone in their household has symptoms of cold, flu, vomiting or diarrhea. Anybody who has flu and other viral infections should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter remedies which may help ease symptoms and consult your GP if your condition is getting worse. We are appealing to people only to visit within the designated hospital visiting times and to respect our visiting guidelines.”